Welcome back to my POTS exercise protocol diary! What is this series? Well, I’m trying a strict exercise protocol created by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia designed to improve my POTS symptoms. POTS (postular orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) is a condition that includes high heart rate that jumps more than 30 beats per minute when you go from resting to active and normal-to-low blood pressure, which can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fainting, etc. It’s really not a fun condition that has made my life miserable every summer since I developed it, and I’m super over it. I’m already on medication and I’m already doing lifestyle changes like increased sodium and water consumption, so I figured that I might as well try this protocol.
All of that said, let’s get into my diary entries from month 2!
POTS Exercise Protocol Diary: Week 1
Tuesday, June 4, 2019 – I started month 2! I’ll admit that I was nervous going into today’s workout because month 2 looks like it’s going to be different from month 1. Which makes sense. Anyway. I’m still doing the recumbent bike as my exercise, which is what I’ll continue to do for this month. But today’s workout was 10 minutes of warm-up, 6 minutes of my heart rate being 125-145 bpm, 2 minutes recovery, 6 minutes at that pace again, another 2 minutes of recovery, back to 6 minutes at that pace, and then 10 minutes of cool-down. This back and forth is a little different than what I was doing by the end of last month, which was 7 minutes at that pace, 3 recovery, and then 5 back at that pace. By the end of the month, I’ll be doing 28 minutes straight at that pace! That seems that a huge amount to me, but I recognize that to many, it isn’t that much or it’s normal.
I’m not experiencing benefits of this protocol yet, but it’s still early. They say not to expect benefits until around month 5, which is frustrating that it could take that long, but it does feel closer than it used to!
Wednesday, June 5, 2019 – I realized that I haven’t given an update on my strength-training exercises in a while, so now that I’m in month 2, I figured I would do that. I’m still doing the lowest number of reps for each exercise (9 exercises in total), but I am doing them at least 3 days a week, and I’m getting close to increasing the number of reps. I’ll probably start by increasing the reps of the exercises that are the easiest, or at least the least difficult. Ones like the Pilates hold are still really difficult.
Saturday, June 8, 2019 – Friends, today day was a STRUGGLE. I’m out of my beta blockers (my medication for POTS) but I can’t get them because my license expired earlier this week on my birthday so they won’t give me my medications. But I still did my workout. Which, quite frankly, was a mistake. Without regulated POTS, my heart rate gets really high REALLY easily. So I did very little in my actual workout, as it didn’t take much to get me to the rate my heart rate was supposed to be at. But because it takes very little for it to get high, I also feel miserable. Very nauseated, very sweaty, etc. Fun!
POTS Exercise Protocol Diary: Week 3
Sunday, July 23, 2019 – I am SO frustrated because I 100% wrote entries for the disaster that was Week 2 and now it’s gone. Technology! Basically, the recap is that Week 2 really took 2 weeks, or at least 1.5 weeks. I took Thursday the 13th off because I had a very bad pain day, and then I went to Maine for less than 48 hours. I didn’t want to drive 40 minutes one way to go to my grandma’s retirement community’s gym while I was only up there for such a short period time, so I started Week 2 on a Tuesday and came back to it 1 week later. Long story short, yesterday I started Week 3. The next few weeks are going to be a bit hectic, so I wanted to get in a workout when I could.
This week is my “real” job’s annual conference, so I’ll workout tomorrow (Monday) and then not again until Thursday at the earliest. That will finish Week 3, and then Week 4 will happen in Maine. We’re spending the week of the 4th in Maine, and I’ll work remotely for a few days. We’ll be there for ~8 days, so hopefully I can manage going to my grandma’s gym for 3 of them!
Monday, June 24, 2019 – Well, friends, today’s lesson is that salt pills are not optional in the summer. They’re a necessity. I didn’t take one this morning because I was working from home and planning to work out this afternoon. And in my workout, I sweated like nothing before. In my workouts this week, the intervals of higher-bmp times are longer than previous weeks. For example, today’s workout was 10 minutes of warm-up, 11 minutes of heart rate at 125-145 bpm, 3 minutes of recovery, 11 minutes up again, and then 10 minutes of cool-down. I was so sweaty that I didn’t take the bus home – I didn’t want to put my fellow passengers through that!
Friday, June 28, 2019 – I finished week 3! I’m very excited about that. Today was the hottest day of the summer so far, and despite everything I did (all the water, all the salt pills, all the AC), I got sick this afternoon due to heat. I went to the gym in the morning, trying to take it easy so that this wouldn’t happen but also trying to stick to this protocol, and all was good at the moment! But then I came home and apparently took a shower that was too hot. High outside temps + too warm shower = POTS problems. It does make me nervous for the rest of the summer, but there’s very little I can do about it. Oh, and while salt pills helped, they didn’t do enough. (Obviously.) Really hoping that today is just a fluke, or at least that it’s just my body adjusting to these high temperatures.
POTS Exercise Protocol Diary: Week 4
July 7, 2019 – I am so close to finishing month 2! That’s incredibly exciting. As I expected, it was tough last week to make my workouts work. I was in Maine for the entire week, meaning that I was 40 minutes away from a gym. I was also working from home some days. So I went 7 days between the end of Week 3 and the start of Week 4. But then there were only 2 days between the first and second workouts, so that’s good. And my workouts are now much simpler than previous ones! It’s 10 minutes of warm-up, 20-28 minutes of 125-145 bpm heart rate, and then 10 minutes of cool-down. With the heat, these workouts are so damn easy because it doesn’t take much to get my heart rate to 125. In fact, it’s hard to keep it below 145. So we’ll see what happens as the summer continues.
July 10, 2019 – I did it! Yesterday, I finished month 2 of this protocol. I’m very excited to have FINALLY finished this month, which really took 5 weeks instead of 4. I’m not going to lie: it was rough. But I did it. My last month 2 workout was yesterday, and it was 10 minutes of warm-up, 28 minutes of 125-145 bpm, and 10 minutes of cool-down. Honestly? It was boring. Today I’m going to do my strength-training exercises and tomorrow I’ll go to the pool. I haven’t done aquatherpy exercises in a while, and I’m bored with my workouts and struggling with the heat, so it seems like a good time for a pool afternoon. Then this weekend I’ll start month 3. And THAT is going to be interesting.
Like this post? Check out: